THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it authorized imports of 60,000 metric tons (MT) of frozen small pelagic fish in the first quarter to augment supply in areas hit by Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai).

“The National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) said we have more than enough supply but based on data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), we have a potential deficit this quarter of about 119,000 MT,” Secretary William D. Dar said in a televised briefing.

“We cannot just say that the fishing sector will continue to be normal. They are the number one sub-sector hit by typhoon. The capacity of our fishers to catch will be in question,” Mr. Dar added.

Damage to the fisheries sector due to Odette was estimated at P3.97 billion, or 29.81% of total agricultural losses, according to the DA.

Mr. Dar cited inflation, logistics problems, and high prices as the other reasons for the need to import.

“By the end of the day, having considered everything, NFARMC is a body that has the recommendatory responsibility, but we (the DA) take responsibility in terms of ensuring food security. In this case, importing small pelagic fishes,” Mr. Dar said. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson